JournalismJournalism ShowcaseNCAAB

ESPN Producer Emma Reed Profiles Sabrina Ionescu With The Help Of The Oregon Star’s Twin Brother

"When I found out how important her family was to her, I wanted to tell her story through that lens."

Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu has made a name for herself as one of the best college basketball players. She owns a record-setting 18 career triple-doubles – the most of any student-athlete in a single season and career.

She’s got skills and grit. But her family – and twin brother Eddy especially – has helped mold her into the Triple-Double Queen. In a feature that will air tonight as part of ESPN’s Women’s Final Four coverage from Tampa, Fla., ESPN producer Emma Reed gives fans a look at just how important family is to Ionescu.

What was your goal in capturing Sabrina in her element and with her family?
When I found out Sabrina had a twin brother, Eddy, I immediately knew I wanted to interview them together because they would bring out each other’s personalities naturally, have entertaining banter and both would be more comfortable being interviewed when their best friend is by their side.

I soon learned that he lived with Sabrina in Eugene, so when schedules aligned to have them sit down together, it was hands-down the best decision of this entire production. Sabrina is all about family – both her immediate family and basketball family. That is the sole reason she committed to Oregon – to be close enough so that her family [she’s from Walnut Creek, Calif.] can come to the games. When I found out how important her family was to her, I wanted to tell her story through that lens.

Was there something new that you learned or were surprised by?
I found out that Sabrina is a first generation immigrant from Romania. The twins were born in California, but they have yet to visit Romania to this day. They hope to one day, but their busy schedules haven’t allowed it. Another thing that surprised me was that her first language is Romanian, English second. It was important to her parents that they raise their children through their Romanian heritage, so once they got into school, they learned English.

What should fans know about her that they don’t know already?
Sabrina was like any other girl growing up playing basketball who had a big dream to play basketball. She even had both her feet in casts at age 12, due to split bones in both her feet. They were on for several months, and she admits it was a tough time due to getting made fun of by other kids, but that did not stop her from doing what she loved. She persevered, and despite being a lanky kid who didn’t have the height, it was her determination and smarts that got her to where she is now – the Triple-Double Queen.

Watch a preview of the feature above. Tune in tonight to ESPN’s Women’s Final Four coverage (6:30 ET, ESPN2) to see the entire feature. Oregon’s national semifinal matchup against Baylor tips off at 7 p.m., on ESPN2 and the ESPN App.

ESPN producer Emma Reed (L) talks to Oregon basketball star Sabrina Ionescu as the Oregon Duck eavesdrops. (Photo courtesy of Emma Reed/ESPN)

With the NCAA Men’s Final Four in Minneapolis this weekend, SportsCenter’s “SC Featured” tells the story of Prince’s passion for basketball. The late musician and Minneapolis native had game on and off the court, as many of his bandmates – featured here – and others will testify. Here’s the trailer for the feature, which debuts Saturday, April 6 during the 8 a.m. SportsCenter on ESPN.

– Molly Mita and Andy Hall

1. The Boston Celtics and the Indiana Pacers tip off this season’s final NBA Friday doubleheader on ESPN beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Apr. 5. In the 10:30 p.m. nightcap, Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers visit Nikola Jokić and the Denver Nuggets.

2. Women’s Final Four Presented by Capital One Exclusively on ESPN and ESPN2 kicks off with the Seminfinals live from Tampa on Friday, April 5 between No. 2 Oregon and No. 1 Baylor at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 followed by No. 2 UConn vs. No. 1 Notre Dame at 9 p.m. The winners will compete for the National Championship title on Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPN.

3. NCAA Division I Softball continues with four of the top five teams featured on ESPN Networks this Saturday with No. 1 UCLA at No. 19 Arizona State at 5 p.m. on ESPN2, No. 4 Alabama at South Carolina at 6 p.m. on ESPN, No. 5 LSU at Mississippi State at 6p.m. on ESPNU and Baylor at No. 2 Oklahoma at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

4. ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell returns to Colorado for the first time since 2001, this Sunday, April 7, as the Rockies and Nolan Arenado host the defending National League Champion Los Angeles Dodgers and Cody Bellinger at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Close